Daniel Boone and his Companions by Gilbert White

Graveyard Quilt

Graveyard Quilt, 1843

Mitchell, Elizabeth Roseberry, Graveyard Quilt, 1843; cotton and paper; 85”x81”; 1959.13

This quilt is widely known as the graveyard quilt. It is made of cotton fabrics in shades of brown. The pattern features eight pointed stars alternating with blocks of brown calico. The center depicts a graveyard surrounded by a picket fence with a trellis climbing roses. It also has angels in the corner and several coffins. The border of the quilt is another picket fence with more coffins. Walnut hull dyes were used for brown fabrics. Names of several family members are attached to some of the coffins on small strips of paper.

The maker, Elizabeth Roseberry Mitchell, and her family were natives of Pennsylvania. In 1834, the family moved to Lewis County, Ky. In 1836 an infant son, John Vanetta, dies. In 1843 a second son, Matthais, died at age 19. Elizabeth and her daughters Sarah and Elizabeth completed this quilt around 1843. Each paper casket on the periphery bears a relative’s name. As each died, the tag was moved to the cemetery center. This quilt is an excellent example of 19th century mourning customs as well as an example of the emotions that were often expressed by women through their quilts.


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